Web Site Promotion
by Allery Scotts Ltd
The first thing to consider before even looking at online marketing methods is who do you really want to visit your site and what do you want to achieve? Many companies find that the majority of their traffic is from suppliers, competitors and friends or relatives of employees. This is not necessarily a bad thing of course, but will not help you generate much interest or business with customers.
Having thought about your targeting, the next step is to explore the different options that will help your business raise its profile through the web site. The overriding principle is to treat the Internet just like any other marketing activity - make sure it has clear objectives, is targeted, integrated with other marketing tactics and fits with your overall business goals.
Create a niche. Companies attempting to be all things to all people on the net have generally failed to make an impact - the web is now so vast that there is very little equivalent of the high street "passing trade". Furthermore, the net allows, even encourages, people to search the entire world for "best of breed". Department stores online have generally been disasters, but retailers with distinct specialities, like Italian salami or Scotch whisky, have prospered. Famous Internet success stories such as Amazon.com and Virtual Vineyards all started with a very narrow product focus and a clear idea of how the web would deliver that offering to market.
Get a good net name. Many people will try to find things by guessing at the URL, so see if you can get one they will guess easily. Using your company's name and adding "com" or "co.uk" are the obvious ones of course. But given that most names you register will cost under £200 and you can have them all pointing to the same place if necessary, it is well worth considering registering several. There is a point of view that you should go to the same lengths to protect your brand online as you would in the physical world. For example www.coke.com and www.coke.net are both owned by the Coca Cola Corporation. But try www.coke.co.uk and you will get something that their marketing department would definitely not approve of!
Link with other marketing material. Every piece of literature you produce, be it brochures, letterhead, business cards or advertisements, should have your website address on it. Surely that is where you want existing and potential customers, not to mention suppliers and potential employees, to go for further information or support? If not, why are you bothering to try and promote the site in the first place? This is where the need to ensure you integrate your web marketing activities, with other tactics, to get maximum benefit.
Work the search engines. People are
going to be able to find you pretty easily if they know your company name
or trademarks, but what about if all they know is the generic product
category? Appearing in a reasonable place in the search engine rankings
- ideally on the first page - has become a lot harder than it used to
be because of the massive growth of the web. You therefore need to seek
expert help on this issue.
Let customers and suppliers know. This obviously depends on how you are using the web site, but if you can offer a service or section for existing customers and suppliers, you will not only save time on the telephone, but you will probably find that they refer other people to you. Send them an email with a pointer to the site, or include a flyer for the website in their next invoice, payment or other standard communication. Another small but worthwhile tip is to include the URL in your email signature file so that everybody you ever send an email to has a record of it. A five person company sending 10 emails each a day means up to fifty people a day being notified or reminded of your website.
Mutual links. Start by tracking down as many relevant interest group or complementary sites as possible and ask them to feature a link to your site. You could have a links page which features them in return. After all, cross-links are the foundation of many amateur web sites and are practically the reason hypertext was invented. For example, if you had a service or product relevant to knowledge management in some way, you could try to be featured on www.brint.com and www.km-forum.org. Pursuing this approach further, many Internet-focused companies have had great success with "associate programmes". In this model related amateur sites will host banner advertising, or even an actual "point of sale", for a commercial site and will be paid a small amount for each click-through, or each actual customer. This is a great idea for amateur sites but rates are rising as more and more people catch on to the idea.